We believe that membership means commitment. Commitment comes from knowing that God has called you to do something or be something. We believe that God calls people to a specific purpose, for a specific period of time. Word of Grace Network, like a church, or an individual, has distinct purposes to accomplish and the linking of the right people to this purpose is important for the growth and fulfillment of both. Therefore, you should be prayerful about choosing who you are going to be committed too in the first place. One way you can know if this is something you should join is by comparing your own purpose, spiritual goals and your standards to that of the group. If they are not similar or there is not the potential for the mutual fulfillment of purpose, then you should consider finding some other affiliation. Your doctrinal emphasis and distinctives are also important things to consider. You should also choose a network that provides a place for you to give and receive. On the giving end, there should be opportunities to grow by serving others, or at least the potential should exist to get involved in helping others. On the receiving end, you need to join a network that can provide the resources you need. You also need to associate with other brothers and sisters who have what you need to help you grow in the Lord. He always uses certain people to help shape our lives and provoke us to develop Christian character. (Some do this in less than positive ways!) Finally, you need to join with those who are going where we want to go in the Lord.
Denominations have often used membership or credentials as a means of stopping any kind of movement between their members and other groups. To them, membership becomes ownership. While we would expect our members to make their involvement with us a priority, we still want them to be able to draw freely from other groups in the Body of Christ. We even think it is possible to affiliate with more than group at a time. However, we want you to consider how much time and energy you have to apply to a genuine level of commitment.
Building of relationships requires the deepest level of commitment. At first glance, most networks seem to be made up of good people who "have it all together". It is only after we have gotten to know them that love and faithfulness are really required of us. Often forbearance and honesty are what strengthen our commitment, just like in a marriage or family. Love and faithfulness are required if you are to become deeply involved with any group, which is God's plan for our growth in the first place. "... and let us think of one another and how we can encourage each other in love and doing good deeds. And let us not hold aloof from our church meetings as some do. Let us do all we can to help one another's faith, and this the more earnestly as we see the final day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24,25 from the Phillips Translation).
We want our members to get involved. There are three basic things that we are looking for in the lives of those who serve in the roles within Word of Grace. We are looking for maturity, motivation, and morality. Maturity can be measured by how we get along with others and how we relate to authority. Motivation is shown by the depth of our Christian character, and morality comes from a close and yielded walk with the Lord. Beyond this, we look for compatibility between the person's abilities and the task at hand. As we get to know a person and observe their readiness for responsibility, those in leadership will approach them with opportunities to serve.
While there are limited roles and responsibilities in any organization, there are unlimited opportunities for personal growth by getting involved with others. There are no limits on how much you can get involved with our events, projects, outreaches, and events. There is no limit on how much hospitality and doing good works to those in need. Take every opportunity to encourage those around you, and use your abilities and skills to be a personal blessing to others. In time, the Lord will make room for your gift, allowing you to serve Him by serving others. "For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister" (Hebrews 6:10).
We want to provide the best pastoral care for our members, but we can only do this for those who let us. In fact, we only have to give an account for those who willingly follow our leadership and accept our authority. "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you" (Hebrews 13:17). You need to make sure that you are in right relationship to authority and that these lines are clear to you and your people.
A PLACE TO GIVE
Finally, when someone is committed to a church, they share in the financial responsibilities, which are incurred on their behalf. This includes salaries for staff, materials and resources for different departments, outreach, guest ministry, missions, etc. This is also true for our network. It will require your commitment to pay share of the expenses each month. The Leadership Team, on your behalf, will decide how and where finances are dispersed. They will do this by carefully considering the opinions and concerns of our members. An accounting of the previous year's spending, as well as the proposed spending for the coming year will be presented at each Annual Meeting.
FORMALIZING YOUR MEMBERSHIP
All of what has been mentioned so far – embracing the purpose of the network, making it a priority, interaction with other members, receiving our leadership, and giving financially are all the ingredients that make up membership. When you are ready to make such a commitment, let one of the Elders know and they will help you begin the process.
It is important to note that we reserve the official capacities of our network for those who have shown commitment by their actions and formal membership. We also invite our member’s to give their input in all our important decisions. If a member fails to continue in their attendance or relinquishes their level of commitment and cannot be encouraged to begin anew, their formal membership will be made void by the Elders.
Because one of our goals is to build close relationships, we will avoid recruiting people for the sake of swelling numbers. Instead, we require all pastors to go through a "courtship period", where we can see how deep their commitment is to our philosophy of ministry. To initiate the process, you can fill-out an application so we can learn more about you. A time can be arranged for you to meet with one of the members of our Leadership Team. You must agree with our Statement of Faith and will need to embrace the distinctives made available in this material. Churches planted the leadership of Word of Grace will automatically become part of network.